Sunday, April 17, 2011

my name is martha

It's been an entire week since I've last updated. Oh criminy. My mind has definitely been distracted. I guess you could say I've been hanging out in Narnia all week, but that's for a different post.

This one is about Martha.

This is an exerpt from a longer piece I wrote for a class last semester, and it's been sitting in my over-flowing letter box I keep under my bed, full of letters and special mail I've received the past year. It is very dear to my heart.  But so is this essay. Since I don't have much to relay in the blogging world, I wanted to post this essay because it's one of the pieces of writing I am most proud of:

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When I was somewhere between six and eight years old I begged my mother to let me change my name to Martha. "Nina" was not a name that I identified with. For one, as a child I had a perpetually stuffy nose. So anytime anyone would ask me for my name, instead of clearly and accurately pronouncing "nina" it would come out like "Dneenda" and I would either gag on the little bit of mucous lodged in the back of my throat or have to repeat my name until people stopped thinking my name was "Deena."

Martha suited me much better.

My six to eight-year-old self idolized the name Martha. It was a name I coveted, one I desperately wished my mother had picked for me before settling on a name that just reminded me of Beans. (Nina...Neen..Bean). I liked eating green beans but I didn't want to be called a bean and Martha had no relations at all to anything remotely bean-like. During this age I was also obsessed over the colonial era and in my mind, Martha was the colonial name. It procured the image of a girl my own age with petticoats and a bonnet and some kind of apron and cobbled shoes--everything I craved for as a little girl and could never attain.

My love affair with the 18th century did not remain private. For my eighth birthday I received an inkwell and quill pen set from my mother's best friend and subsequently turned in all of my homework in runny, purple ink. I begged my mother to let me walk around with candles at nighttime, insisting we didn't need the lights in the house to be on and that using candlelight would "be a lot of fun!" She said no to the candles but bought me a long, billowing white nightgown that creeped the hell out of my sisters but made me swoon. When my sisters got Malibu Barbie and Evening Gown Barbie for Christmas, I got Colonial Barbie. She was a brunette doll with a large red bonnet. When my mom and dad told my sisters and I they were taking us to Disneyworld for vacation, I didn't shriek with delight or jump up and down like my sisters did. I asked my mom what was wrong with my suggestion of going to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and she told me Disneyworld had a castle. I didn't want a castle though--all I wanted was to dip twine into wax and make candles.

Even though my wish for vacation wasn't granted, my mother never laughed at me throughout this phase. She didn't even gently ignore me the way she could have easily done. My mother actually indulged me and I realize now how happy I was during this time. I didn't understand that my preoccupation with 1776 was peculiar or strange for a little girl--she continually made me feel loved and special and beautiful. And when I asked her to call me Martha she did.

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